A comment on Chait on Bain
Jonathan Chait argues both that the debate about Romney and Bain is idiotic and he participates in it. His contribution is definitely idiotic if he is right that the debate is stupid. It is also idiotic if it isn’t stupid, because he ignored what is true and what is false when writing about what is true and what is false. The problem is that he assumes that the Romney campaign told at most one lie and not an irrelevant lie to distract attention from publicly reported facts.
There is a big debate about whether Romney has any responsibility for things Bain did from February 11 1999 until 2002 — a period when he was sole shareholder, Chairman of the board, CEO and President. (many have remarked that Romney doesn’t really want to convince us that he believes that being President doesn’t involve taking any responsibility). There is much less debate about whether this is relevant to the Romney campaign’s claim that there is no evidence that Romney managed investment in outsourcers. But he did that well before 1999. One controversy has distracted Chait (among others) from a demonstrable flat out lie.
See also this post, an older post and a third post.
I lose it in comments on Chait.
I note that you equate “not proven” with false. Even if you are right that the Obama campaign can’t prove all of its claims beyond all doubt doesn’t mean that you should say their claims are false.
Notably, you argue that the debate about when Romney stopped managing Bain is a “nonsense argument” and then vigorously participate in that argument writing “Bain Capital did those things after Romney stopped running the company.”
No. You can claim that the topic is pointless nonsense or you can make a definite claim, but not both. You don’t like the Obama campaigns approach — pointless and false both feel bad, but you should be able to distinguish your feelings from your assessment of objective fact.
Also your claim of fact is unquestionably false. The reason is that, well before 1999, Bain invested in firms which offshored.
I quote from the un-retracted Washington Post story
“Bain’s foray into outsourcing began in 1993 when the private equity firm took a stake in Corporate Software Inc., or CSI, after helping to finance a $93 million buyout of the firm. CSI, which catered to technology companies like Microsoft, provided a range of services including outsourcing of customer support. Initially, CSI employed U.S. workers to provide these services but by the mid-1990s was setting up call centers outside the country.
Two years after Bain invested in the firm, CSI merged with another enterprise to form a new company called Stream International Inc. Stream immediately became active in the growing field of overseas calls centers. Bain was initially a minority shareholder in Stream and was active in running the company, providing “general executive and management services,” according to SEC filings.”
How do you reconcile these facts publicly reported in a not so obscure newspaper withh your claim that ” “Bain Capital did those things after Romney stopped running the company.” ? I ask for information and will interpret a failure to respond as a confession that this post is totally incorrect.
Look decide if you think a debate is pointless or if you are going to jump into it. Otherwise you make a fool of yourself as you did with this post.
Bain is great campaigning. You always want to attack your opponent’s strength, so a war hero like Kerry gets attacked for winning the Silver Star, even it impugns every other Silver and Bronze Star winner. Romney’s big strength is that he is a successful businessman, and that American needs a businessman to get its economy back on track. Bain was his business. It might as well have a bulls eye painted on it.
The US doesn’t need businessmen who succeed by replacing equity with debt lowering tax liability and increasing financial fragility. Nor businessmen who separate suckers who over pay for bonds from their money.
In a perfectly functioning market economy, businessmen who are successful in obtaining lots of money cause economic growth. But that’s not the kind of market economy we have.
There is a difference between being a good businessman and being a speculator. Romney is a speculator, there are very few good businessmen involved in finance mostly speculators and con men.
While political operatives, journalists and yes even bloggers are all a buzz about this, normal people with normal lives and jobs (or not) just don’t care much about this yacking match.
“Romney’s big strength is that he is a successful businessman, and that American needs a businessman to get its economy back on track.”
In that case I’d suggest that either Puff Daddy Combs, who is said to be worth about $500M and is successful in several businesses sounds like the better choice. There seems to be little question that he did that without the aid of a very wealthy daddy or the connections that go with membership in the lucky sperm club. Then again we could re-elect George W. who ran several business, some into the ground of course, but so too did Mitty.
rusty, “normal people with normal lives and jobs (or not) just don’t care much about this yacking match.”
While I do think that the general public has the inclination to believe the biggest lie and forgive the greatest faults, I’d disagree with your conclusion. If even at a subliminal level, the public is taking in much of this Mr. Rich Guy Who Cheats info and storing it. Mitt comes across as a slick elixer salesman. I think he’ll crash and burn if this type of information continues to come to the fore.
Big wealth is a big talking point. Mitt talks about his generation of wealth for himself and Obama talks about Mitts ruination of wealth for other stakeholders in Mitt’s enterprises.
I’m personally interested why Mitt has a $100 million IRA and I only have a $600,000 401(k) when my 401(k) had higher contributions than Mitt’s IRA was ever allowed to have.
The classic approach for a challenger is to denigrate the record of the incumbent. That is obviously what Romney aimed to do. The recent preference for governors over Senators is that Senators vote for stuff and their votes constitute a record they might have to defend. Romney’s record as governor is problematic, because his party wants to run against Obama on a health care law nearly identical to the one Romney backed in as governor and because the Massachusetts job market sucked while he was governor.
Romney’s taxes and his time at Bain set him apart from what the median voter is likely to think of as “like me”. They make him an “elite” of a sort that’s in ill-favor now. That’s why they are vulnerabilities. Attacking those vulnerabilities distracts his campaign – and the press – from his attack on Obama’s record.
Good? Bad? Whatever. This is politics.